As the founder and CEO of digital media investment bank Luma Partners LLC, Terence Kawaja is a problem solver by nature. But earlier this summer, as Kawaja watched his news feed, he found himself hearing about problems that left him at a loss. He read about the killing of George Floyd and police shootings of Breonna Taylor and, most recently, Jacob Blake—incidents Kawaja considered “horrific” and “unjustified”—and he watched as the Black Lives Matter movement mobilized in cities across the country, including his home city of New York.
Kawaja was behind BLM but was troubled by the inefficacy of expressing it merely by tweeting or hitting a “like” button. “As a white man, I certainly expressed my support,” he said, “[and] my frustration with the injustices—but that’s not enough.”
So the CEO started thinking of ways he could “do something and not just say something.” He wasn’t exactly qualified to write a treatise on police reform, he said, but Luma Partners’ day-to-day business did have a product that Kawaja thought could help.
As most everyone in the world of ad tech and mar tech knows, Luma Partners produces the Lumascape. For the uninitiated, it’s a document that maps out firms in the ad-tech field by categorizing them by specialty and orienting them in a logical relation to one another. First issued in 2009, the Lumascape has grown to 22 editions that have been downloaded over 12 million times by executives in 200 countries. If you’re working in media, marketing or tech these days, the Lumascape has become the proverbial roadmap you stash in the glove compartment.
Going on the reasoning that one useful way of helping the Black community is by supporting Black-owned businesses, Kawaja decided to create a new Lumascape to identify those very firms. The result is the aptly named Black Lumascape, which debuts today.
Kawaja admits that he couldn’t compile this chart off the top of his head. “I reached out to a couple of African-American colleagues and told them what I was up to,” he said. “Many of them said, ‘Let me connect you with so and so, who runs a variety of organizations.’ And they had lists. They helped us. With all Lumascapes, we rely on crowdsourcing to complete them.”
This first edition, Kawaja says, is probably 85% of the way there. But if there are firms that he’s missed, he’s relying on them to contact Luma, which will then update the chart “and keep it evergreen,” he said.
Given how ubiquitous Lumascape charts have become in the industry, they’ve been an excellent form of marketing for Kawaja’s company. But the itended utility of this one is to funnel business toward black-owned firms that, for any number of reasons, don’t enjoy the top-of-mind awareness that larger and better connected companies do.
Using his chart, “should people want to do more than express support”—meaning, support with dollars and not just words—“here is a tool that could help,” Kawaja said.